Thursday, February 2, 2012

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Closed After Radiation Leak, California

A small quantity of radioactive gas leaked inside one of the buildings at San Onofre nuclear power plant north of San Diego, according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The spokesman said the radiation levels were “barely measurable,” but the plant was shut down as a precaution.

“At no point were the public or our workers in any danger,” Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told ABC News. Read More

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5.4 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 23.8 km (14.8 miles), the quake hit at 04:33:09 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 117 km (73 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Kim Jong Un Looking at Things

Like father, like son. Since the recent death of Kim Jong Il, North Korean state-run media has been releasing a series of images of the "Great Successor," Kim Jong Un, visiting schools, factories, and military facilities.

These visits, which were frequently publicized by his father and his grandfather Kim Il Sung, are called "field guidance" trips -- opportunities for the supreme leader to give on-the-spot advice.

For decades, the North Korean myth-making machine endowed Kim Jong Il with amazing wisdom, prowess, and intelligence, and it continues that tradition now with his son, touting him as a marksman, poet, economic genius, and wise military strategist.

Little is actually known about Kim Jong Un. Even his age remains in doubt -- he may be 28, 29, or 30. Based on the state-released photos collected here, he is following closely in his father's footsteps, albeit with a touch more visible affection. Read More

Lillian Gomez Suspended for Putting Hot Sauce on Crayons to Stop Autistic Students From Eating Them

A Florida teacher is in hot water after administrating some hot sauce-based discipline.

Lillian Gomez, a special needs teacher at Sunrise Elementary School in Kissimme, Florida, had a problem with some of her autistic students eating the crayons. So, she decided to dip the crayons in hot sauce. She's now been suspended.

Now, WFTV reports that some of the student's family members want the teacher fired.

"I was really upset. I couldn't believe it. Honestly, I was like, 'How can a teacher of so many years do something like that?'" Karina Holguin, the aunt of two of the young students, told the station. "They got to be traumatized, especially for a kid who can't express himself like any other children that can tell you this hurts or doesn't hurt."

They may just get their way. The Osceola school district superintendent has recommend that Gomez be fire for the Fall incident, and a termination hearing is scheduled for later this month. Read More

FBI uses chain saw on wrong door in Massachusetts


A Massachusetts woman says the FBI used a chain saw blade to cut through her door and held her at gunpoint for at least 30 minutes before agents realized they were conducting a raid at the wrong home.

Judy Sanchez, of Fitchburg, says she awoke to heavy footsteps in the stairwell on Jan. 26 and walked into her kitchen in time to see a blade chop through her door.

"I took two steps, face the second door, and I heard the click of a gun, and saying, ‘FBI, get down,’ so I laid down on my living room floor,” Sanchez told WHDH.com. "I was screaming, ‘You have the wrong apartment, you have the wrong apartment,’ over fifty times. And then I seen the big blade coming down my door."
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She says she was held face-down on the floor at gunpoint while her 3-year-old daughter Ji’anni cried in another room.

It turns out agents were after the other tenant on the floor of the multi-unit building who was suspected of dealing drugs. Read More

WTO Rejects Appeal by Chinese Regime

Chinese Hostages Freed by Egypt Tribesmen

17 Chinese Workers Rescued, 29 Still Held by Sudanese Rebel Forces

Angry Protestors Storm Police Station in China's Jiangxi Province

Seven People Arrested for Cadmium Pollution in Southern China

Air Force One tapes shed light on JFK death aftermath

The U.S National Archives has released long-lost audio recordings of conversations that happened on Air Force One during the flight back to Washington, D.C., following the assassination of John F. Kennedy while he was president.

The tapes, which provide insight into what happened on the plane following the assassination in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963, contain more than 40 minutes of audio that was not included in tapes previously made public.

The plane was carrying the body of the president, his wife Jackie Kennedy, whose clothes were still stained with her husband’s blood, and Lyndon B. Johnson — who was sworn in as president on Air Force One at Love Field Airport only two hours after Kennedy was shot and killed.

The conversations were recorded by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), which routed all phone and radio traffic, and include new code names and incidents; communications with another aircraft in the presidential fleet, en route to Tokyo; a private conversation with Jerry Behn, the head of the Secret Service; a phone call to Rose Kennedy, the president’s mother; and a discussion about what to do with the president's body.

"Everyone aboard Air Force One, with the exception of the body, would be choppered into the south ground. The body will be choppered to the Bethesda Naval Medical Centre," a voice on the tape says. Read More

Greeks fell trees for warmth amid economic chill

Rising oil prices and chilly economic times are prompting increasing numbers of Greeks to chop down trees for winter warmth, a group of forest engineers warned Tuesday.

Nikos Bokaris, a spokesman for the Panhellenic Union of Forest Engineers, said the debt-wracked nation's forest ecosystems were not yet under threat, but urged the government to act quickly to prevent broader damage.

"You have to remember what happened in Albania," Bokaris said, describing how that country's population felled trees en masse after the collapse of communism. "Even the trees lining the roads were chopped down."

Greek foresters filed 1,500 criminal complaints last year, twice as many as in 2010. About 70 percent of Greece's forests are public, with most of the rest belonging to various religious institutions. Read More

Rate of tropical timber harvest a concern

Timber production in the world's tropical countries is exceeding the forests' ability to replace the felled trees, an Australian report says.

Researchers at Australian National University and James Cook University said the standard cutting cycle of 30-40 years is too short to allow trees to grow to a volume required by commercial loggers, the BBC reported Tuesday.

This would result in ongoing pressure to harvest primary forests, leading to deforestation, they said.

Researchers cited the Solomon Islands, where timber had been a major source of government revenue, as an example for being "a microcosm of the challenges facing sustainable forest management in the tropics."

"For nearly a decade, the nation had been warned that the volume of timber annually harvested from native forests was too high and, if unchecked, that timber stocks would be seriously depleted by 2012," the researchers said. Read More

$1.6 million fine for cutting down trees

A Florida couple was fined $1.6 million for cutting down mangrove trees on their property without proper state and city permits.

Roger and Myrna Byrd of Jupiter removed 109 mangroves, a tree Florida has protected since 1985, in late 2010, The Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday.

"Those mangroves will take two or three decades to grow back. It is imperative the judicial system support laws to protect these critical habitats," said Albrey Arrington, the Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District's executive director, referring to the fine handed down by Jupiter Magistrate Paul Nicoletti.

The Byrds must pay the city $15,000 per tree, Nicoletti ruled, and must also pay legal fees to the city.

Neighbors had testified Roger Byrd had complained on several occasions the mangroves were blocking his view of the river. Read More

Truckloads of Chinese rice enter North Korea

Long convoys of Chinese lorries laden with rice were seen entering North Korea after Beijing reportedly agreed to provide major food aid to Pyongyang's new regime, a South Korean activist said Tuesday.

Thousands of lorries delivered rice to the hungry North starting on January 9, said Do Hee-Yoon of the Seoul-based Citizens' Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees.

On Monday a Japanese newspaper said Chinese leaders had agreed on the aid at a meeting on December 20, the day after North Korea announced the death of its longtime leader Kim Jong-Il.

The deliveries lasted about 10 days before the Lunar New Year holiday on January 23, Do told AFP.

As evidence, he presented pictures taken near the customs office in the northeastern town of Tumen on the Chinese side of the border on January 12. Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF EL SALVADOR - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck off the Coast of El Salvador at a depth of 59.2 km (36.8 miles), the quake hit at 04:10:46 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 129 km (80 miles) SSW of Usulután, Usulután, El Salvador
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Food Crisis as Drought and Cold Hit Mexico

MEXICO CITY — A drought that a government official called the most severe Mexico had ever faced has left two million people without access to water and, coupled with a cold snap, has devastated cropland in nearly half of the country.

The government in the past week has authorized $2.63 billion in aid, including potable water, food and temporary jobs for the most affected areas, rural communities in 19 of Mexico’s 31 states. But officials warned that no serious relief was expected for at least another five months, when the rainy season typically begins in earnest.

While the authorities say they expect the situation to worsen, one of the five worst-affected states, Zacatecas, got a reprieve on Sunday. Heriberto Félix Guerra, head of the Ministry of Social Development, saw the rain, the first in 17 months, as a guardedly reassuring sign.

Among the more seriously affected communities are tribal areas of the Tarahumara indigenous community in the Sierra Madre, in the north. Known for endurance running and self-reliance, the Tarahumara are among Mexico’s poorest citizens. When false reports of a mass suicide brought on by hunger surfaced recently, journalists and aid organizations poured in to shed light on the situation. Read More

Confessions of a Chinese graduate

When I was a kid, university graduates were as rare as unicorns, now they are more like popcorn: cheap and plentiful.

No big surprise, considering there are millions of fresh ones every year to join a large pool of millions of existing ones. All are desperate for white-collar jobs that are not easy to come by in China’s manufacturing economy. The problem of university graduates finding jobs has been debated in the media for at least a decade as a difficult social issue and it never improves.

My father is a cleaner at a local paper mill. In his mid-fifties without any professional skills, he works for 50 yuan a day. What can 50 yuan buy? Two cups of coffee at this not-too-fancy coffee shop in Beijing where I am typing these words. But if you are a college graduate and want to find a job in my hometown, you can expect to start with an even lower salary than my father. Earlier this year when I went back to my home village, my parents told me that a girl in the village had gone mad. Why? She went to college, where she studied English for four years, and the best job she could get was to peel shrimps with coworkers, who finished middle school and were at least four years younger than her.

So, a college degree, once a coveted holy grail, a glamorous passport to a fulfilled and secure life, has lost its luster, right? So people are shunning it and pursuing happiness through a different course, right? The fact is that despite the bleak financial prospects and diminishing advantages of being a graduate, the competition to become one has never been any more severe. Read More

China's largest freshwater lake dries up

Drought and new Three Gorges Dam blamed as fishers forced to seek other work and freight trade comes to a halt.

For visitors expecting to see China's largest freshwater lake, Poyang is a desolate spectacle. Under normal circumstances it covers 3,500 sq km, but last month only 200 sq km were underwater. A dried-out plain stretches as far as the eye can see, leaving a pagoda perched on top of a hillock that is usually a little island. Wrapped in the mist characteristic of the lower reaches of the Yangtze river, the barges are moored close to the quayside beside a pitiful trickle of water. There is no work for the fisheries.

According to the state news agency Xinhua, the drought – the worst for 60 years – is due to the lack of rainfall in the area round Poyang and its tributaries. Poor weather conditions this year are partly responsible. But putting the blame on them overlooks the role played by the colossal Three Gorges reservoir, 500km upstream. The cause and effect is still not officially recognised, even if the government did admit last May that the planet's biggest dam had given rise to "problems that need to be solved very urgently".

"Every year, when the Three Gorges reservoir stores water – to power the dam's turbines during the winter – the flow rate in the Yangtze drops. Read More

World lacks enough food, fuel as population soars: U.N.

The world is running out of time to make sure there is enough food, water and energy to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population and to avoid sending up to 3 billion people into poverty, a U.N. report warned on Monday.

As the world's population looks set to grow to nearly 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion now, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially.

Even by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water, according to U.N. estimates, at a time when a changing environment is creating new limits to supply.

And if the world fails to tackle these problems, it risks condemning up to 3 billion people into poverty, the report said. Read More

Israels seeks to fill its quiver of Arrows

Israel has test-fired its new Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile system, the country's main defense against Iran's Shehab-3 missiles, as it drives to boost its arsenal of about 120 of the weapons amid rising tension in the Persian Gulf.

The tests, conducted at the Palmachim Air Base on the Mediterranean south of Tel Aviv, were carried out to check the propulsion system and tracking sensors and were apparently successful, the Arutz Sheva news agency reported.

The Defense Ministry is meanwhile grappling with the problem of how to fund the development of Arrow-3 and the system's new Magnificent Pine radar. Ministry sources say $3.9 billion is needed to produce more batteries of the long-range, high-altitude Arrow built by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. Read More

Iraq says US needs its permission for drones

Washington must obtain Baghdad's permission to use drones to watch over US facilities in Iraq, the Iraqi government spokesman said on Tuesday, adding he does not believe such a request has yet been made.

But US President Barack Obama spoke about surveillance drones in Iraq during an online event on Monday, indicating that they may already be in use.

"The embassy needs to get the approvals from the Iraqi government for any sort of surveillance which is needed," Ali al-Dabbagh told AFP in a telephone interview, when asked about America's use of surveillance drones.

"We could understand how important such surveillance (is) for the embassy and the security of the people working in the embassy, but at the same time we would insist that the permission needs (to come) from the Iraqi government," he said.

Dabbagh said that, to his knowledge, such permission has not yet been requested by the United States. Read More

Malaria Deaths Twice As High As Thought

New research has shown that malaria is killing almost twice as many people globally than was previously thought.

More than 40% of victims are older children and adults, contradicting the belief that the majority of deaths occur among under-fives.

Scientists from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, US, found the disease claimed 1.2 million lives worldwide in 2010.

That is nearly twice the number cited in a report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year.

The team, led by Dr Christopher Murray, analysed all available data on malaria mortality from 1980 to 2010.

Their findings, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed consistently higher death tolls than those in the 2011 World Malaria Report. Read More

Egypt Clashes: Two Protesters Shot Dead



At least two protesters have been shot dead by Egyptian police using live ammunition in the city of Suez.

Witnesses said protesters were trying to break into a police station when shots were fired.

"We received two corpses of protesters shot dead by live ammunition," said a doctor at a morgue where the bodies were kept.

It comes as hundreds of people were injured in the capital Cairo as crowds attempted to gain entry to the interior ministry building.

Thousands took to the streets following the deaths of at least 74 people at a football match on Wednesday.

The deaths at a stadium in Port Said have quickly turned into a political crisis as protesters hold the military-led authorities responsible for the bloodshed. Read More

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 3rd Feb 2012

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 21.7 km (13.5 miles), the quake hit at 03:46:23 UTC Friday 3rd February 2012
The epicenter was 116 km (72 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 21:47:52 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 96 km (59 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake TONGA - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Tonga at a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles), the quake hit at 21:38:34 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 90 km (55 miles) SSW of Hihifo, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 17.4 km (10.8 miles), the quake hit at 20:26:31 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 104 km (64 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

US believes Israel could begin airstrikes against Iran as early as this spring

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has come to the conclusion there is a growing likelihood Israel could attack Iran sometime this spring in an effort to destroy its suspected nuclear weapons program, according to a senior administration official.

The official declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information.

Panetta's views were first reported by the Washington Post's David Ignatius, who wrote Panetta "believes there is strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June - before Iran enters what Israelis described as a 'zone of immunity' to commence building a nuclear bomb."

Asked by reporters in Brussels, where Panetta is attending NATO meetings, the defense secretary refused to comment. But Panetta told reporters the U.S. has "indicated our concerns" to Israel, according to the Agence France Presse news agency.

But the official also noted that Israel goes through cycles of making aggressive statements about its intentions toward Iran in an effort to pressure the United States and the West to take more action.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Thursday that Iran may be close to the point "which may render any physical strike as impractical," according to Reuters. more

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 31.9 km (19.8 miles), the quake hit at 19:44:35 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 118 km (73 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 10.3 km (6.4 miles), the quake hit at 19:20:45 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 59 km (36 miles) WSW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Note: USGS have Still not listed the 5.3 Magnitude which struck at 13:48:20

5.7 Magnitude Earthquake NEW ZEALAND - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake has struck New Zealand at a depth of 200 km (124 miles), the quake hit at 18:00:11 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 90 km (55.8 miles) South of Opunake, New Zealand
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

European Temperatures Plummet and it is Not going to Improve anytime Soon

Cairo Erupts in Violence after Football Deaths



Gunshots have reportedly been heard and tear gas fired outside the interior ministry in Cairo as protesters took to the streets following the deaths of at least 74 people at an Egyptian football match.

At least 120 people have been injured as the demonstrators, chanting slogans against the country's ruling military council and the police, tried to force there way to the building.

"This was not a sports accident, this was a military massacre!" they shouted.

The security services have been criticised for failing to stop the violence that erupted after an Egyptian league match in the coastal city of Port Said.

After Port Said's Al Masry won 3-1, supporters armed with knives, sticks and stones swarmed onto the pitch. Fans and players from Cairo's Al Ahly club were forced to flee for their lives, running towards the exits and up the stands to escape. Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 20.8 km (12.9 miles), the quake hit at 17:28:47 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 1003 km (64 miles) West of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Note: USGS have Still not listed the 5.3 Magnitude which struck at 13:48:20

Rosa Gonzalez charged with murder after malnourished daughter, 5, found dead with injuries 'from her head to her feet'

The mother of a five-year-old girl could be facing murder charges after the child was found dead in her home with cuts and bruises from her head to her feet.

Candy Flores was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at her tiny southwest Houston apartment complex, where she lived with 14 others.
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Her mother, Rosa Gonzalez, 41, told police she sustained the injuries while falling off the toilet.

Someone in the home called 911 and officers found the five-year-old on the floor of the only bedroom in the house.

She had a contusion on her face and a cut on her nose. Paramedics tried to revive her but to no avail.

A medical examiner said that Candy's injuries did not match up with what her mother told detectives as he found many injuries, some of which were fresh and some in different processes of healing. Read More


5.5 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 22.8 km (14.2 miles), the quake hit at 17:27:07 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 119 km (73 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Note: USGS have Still not listed the 5.3 Magnitude which struck at 13:48:20

Why Russia protects Syria's Assad

As casualties mount before the brutal onslaught of Bashar al-Assad's forces against Syria's pro-democracy protesters, the Russians are being unhelpful again. In Washington and Brussels, even habitually cool diplomats have been showing frustration.

On January 31 Russia joined with China to block a plan presented to the U.N. Security Council by Morocco and supported by the Arab League that called on Assad to hand power to his deputy, who would then call a general election. If Assad did not comply within 15 days, the resolution threatened undisclosed "further measures."

Moscow already had vetoed one resolution denouncing Assad's use of force in October. As Western leaders sought to pry the Syrian dictator from power, his old friends in Moscow sent an aircraft-carrying missile cruiser to Syrian waters in a show of support last month and shipped his troops a consignment of Yakhont cruise missiles. Read More

Ontario child porn bust snares 60: Child pornography crimes steadily rising in Canada

Police in Ontario have arrested 60 men — including a daycare worker — and charged them with hundreds of child pornography offences.

The co-ordinated raids by 24 police forces across Ontario picked up the suspects in the days leading up to Thursday's announcement.

"The is one of the largest co-ordinated efforts of its kind in Ontario," said Det.-Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police. "We anticipate there will be several more charged."

Goldschmidt said police from Windsor, London, Niagara, Toronto, Barrie, Sudbury, Ottawa — virtually every major centre in the province — participated in the sweep.

In total 76 search warrants were executed and 60 males arrested — including three people who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

"They come from all walks of life. All occupations … a daycare worker was arrested — and all different age groups, as well." said Goldschmidt.

Initially police have laid 213 charges for possessing, making distributing and accessing child porn. They say there could be more charges as their investigation continues.

"I'm also gratified to report that 22 victims have been identified," though Goldschmidt said he was not at liberty to provide any further information about the victims.

The unusually large police news conference, held at a hotel in Vaughan, Ont., just north of Toronto, was also a way of highlighting what investigators say is a fast-growing crime in Canada's most populous province.

Police said the 60 individuals taken into custody were found after police uncovered nearly 9,000 IP address linked to child pornography. The IP addresses can be found in every major centre in Ontario and led police to say that the problem of child pornography is no longer a strictly "urban" crime. more

Floods hit eastern Australia

GJ 667C: Fourth potentially habitable planet discovered

A fourth potentially habitable planet outside our solar system – about 22 light-years from Earth – with temperatures that could support water and lifen has been discovered by international astronomers.

The team analysed data from the European Southern Observatory about a star known as GJ 667C, which is known as an M-class dwarf star and puts out much less heat than our Sun.
At least three planets are orbiting close to the star, and one of them appears to be close enough that it likely absorbs about as much incoming light and energy as Earth, has similar surface temperatures and perhaps water.

The new rocky planet, GJ 667Cc, orbits its star every 28.15 days – meaning its year equals about one Earth month – and has a mass at least 4.5 times that of Earth, according to the research published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Read More

Israel Warns Iranian Missiles Might Threaten U.S.

JERUSALEM — A senior Israeli official said on Thursday that the missile testing site near Tehran that was destroyed in a huge explosion three months ago was developing missiles with a range of some 6,000 miles aimed at the United States.

The official, Moshe Yaalon, a deputy prime minister and minister for strategic affairs, said the explosion, at a Revolutionary Guard missile base, hit a system “getting ready to produce a missile with a range of 10,000 kilometers.”

“That’s the Great Satan,” he said, invoking the term Iran often uses to refer to the United States. “It was aimed at America, not at us.”

Mr. Yaalon was trying to make the point that the Iranian nuclear program is not a threat only to Israel but, as he put it, “a nightmare for the free world.” He said that it was a concern to Arab states as well as to the United States and Israel. Read More

Black Sea freezes in Romania’s Constanta harbor




The Black Sea has frozen for up to 400 meters from the shore in Constanta harbor, Romania, which is currently under a Code Yellow for blizzards and Code Orange for low temperatures. The layer of ice has around 40 cm. This happens every couple of years in Romania, when temperatures stay below minus 10 °C for several days in a row. Source

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 13:57:07 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 124 km (77 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Note: USGS have not listed the 5.3 Magnitude which struck at 13:48:20, maybe still being reviewed.

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 13.4 km (8.3 miles), the quake hit at 13:53:45 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 119 km (74 miles) West of PORT-VILA, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Note: USGS have not listed the 5.3 Magnitude which struck at 13:48:20, maybe still being reviewed.

Thousands Evacuated as North New South Wales facing worst floods in 35 years

Thousands of residents in northern NSW are bunkered down in evacuation centres, as the worst floods in over 35 years hit the region.

Across NSW, more than 12,000 people were isolated by rising floodwaters on Thursday as heavy rainfall lashed the state, sparking 13 flood warnings.

Evacuation operations continued in and around Moree late on Thursday afternoon, with about 2300 residents rushing to sandbag their homes and leave before darkness fell.

Helicopters descended on nearby Pallamallawa to airlift some of its 600 flood-stricken residents to safety, with the Gwydir river expected to peak there at 6pm (AEDT).

NSW SES deputy commissioner of operations Steven Pearce said the Pallamallawa operation was challenging. "But we are very confident we will get everyone to safety," he told AAP.

At Moree, both the Mehi and Gwydir rivers were predicted to peak on Friday morning, matching or exceeding the 10.6m levels reached in the February 1976 flood.

"We're looking at water up to the knees (in some areas)," Moree Mayor Katrina Humphries said in a statement urging affected residents to leave their homes. Read More

Israel says Iran has material for four A-bombs

Israel estimated on Thursday that Iran could make four atomic bombs by further enriching uranium it has already stockpiled, and could produce its first within a year of deciding to build one.

But in his rare public remarks, Major-General Aviv Kochavi, chief of military intelligence, held out the possibility stronger international sanctions might dissuade Tehran from pursuing a policy he had no doubt was aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite Iranian denials.

Citing figures similar to those from the U.N. nuclear agency, Kochavi told Israel's annual Herzliya Conference on strategic affairs: "Iran has accumulated more than 4 tonnes of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5 percent and nearly 100 kilos at an enrichment level of 20 percent.

"This amount of material is already enough for four atomic bombs."

Nuclear bombs require uranium enriched to 90 percent, but Western experts say much of the effort required to get there is already achieved once it reaches 20-percent purity, shortening the time needed for any nuclear weapons "break-out." Read More

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 33 km (20.4 miles), the quake hit at 13:48:20 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 92 km (57 miles) West of VILA, Vanuatu
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Black cat born with two faces

Nong Yousui the boy with Cat Eyes Discovered in China

Google joins Twitter in censorship storm: Site will now block blog posts in line with requests from repressive governments

Google's informal motto is 'don't be evil' - but a recent policy shift could see the search giant help repressive governments to pursue policies many might see as 'evil'.

Bloggers who have relied on Google's Blogger service to organise protest and make their voices heard could find their posts being blocked by Google itself.

The company will now block posts or blogs from being seen in a country if they violate local laws.

In a repressive regime, for instance, the company could remove posts that violate that country's speech laws.

The move has caused unease among bloggers - and has echoes of Twitter's recent decision to block Tweets on a similar 'per country' basis to comply with local laws.

Google claims that the move will actually allow more freedom of speech. Read More

7.1 Magnitude Earthquake VANUATU - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 13:34:38 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 122 km (76 miles) West of PORT-VILA, Vanuatu
No Widespread Tsunami Warning Issued, however Local Tsunami is Possible - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Note; This earthquake has been upgraded from 6.9 to 7.1 magnitude

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake KURIL ISLANDS - 2nd Feb 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck the Kuril Islands at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 12:29:19 UTC Thursday 2nd February 2012
The epicenter was 93 km (57.7 miles) East of Nemuro, Kuril Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Giant Ant Hill Excavated

Zulkifi bin Hir, South-east Asia's most-wanted terrorist with $5m U.S. bounty on his head killed in Philippines air strike

South-east Asia's most-wanted terrorist and two other senior militants were killed today in a U.S.-backed air strike in the Philippines, military chiefs said.

Malaysian Zulkifi bin Hir, known as Marwan, a top leader of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network was apparently killed in a dawn strike on a militant stronghold on a southern island.

The leader of the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militants, Umbra Jumdail, and Singaporean leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, Abdullah Ali, were also apparently killed.

The bodies of the three men have not yet been recovered from the heavily-forested mountain camp because the area remains under the control of another rebel group - the Moro National Liberation Front - so their deaths have not been officially confirmed.

Major General Noel Coballes said no one was captured in the strike and some militants escaped, before returning later to retrieve the bodies of those who died. Read More

Watermelons believed to be the Source to deadly salmonella outbreak that has killed one and left 33 ill in UK

One person has died and at least 33 more have fallen ill from salmonella poisoning that is believed to be linked to eating imported watermelons.

The sufferers, aged from six months to 85, have all fallen ill since December. The number of cases is three times higher than is normally expected in a two-month period.

The one person to die had been suffering from a number of underlying health problems.

The same strain of the bug - called Salmonella Newport - has been identified in five food poisoning cases in Ireland and another 15 in Germany.

Details of the outbreak were revealed by Britain’s Health Protection Agency(HPA), which is investigating the source alongside the Food Standards Agency(FSA). Read More

CONFIRMED CASES

• England - 26
• Wales - 3
• Northern Ireland - 1
• Scotland - 4
• Republic of Ireland - 5
• Germany – 15

'Supergiant' crustacean found in deepest ocean off the Coast of New Zealand

A huge crustacean has been found lurking 7km down in the waters off the coast of New Zealand.

The creature - called a supergiant - is a type of amphipod, which are normally around 2-3cm long.

But these beasts, discovered in the Kermadec Trench, were more than 10 times bigger: the largest found measured in at 34cm.

Alan Jamieson, from the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab, said: "It's a bit like finding a foot-long cockroach."

"I stopped and thought: 'What on Earth was that?' This amphipod was far bigger than I ever thought possible."

The strange animals were found using a large metal trap, which had been equipped with a camera, housed in sapphire glass to keep it safe from the high pressures of the deep sea.

Seven specimens were caught in the trap and nine were captured on film by the team from the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), in New Zealand. Read More

Small traces of Radioactive Iodine-131 mysteriously appear throughout Barents Sea region, Northern Europe

While authorities in Northern Norway, Sweden and Finland have detected insignificant concentrations of the radioactive isotope Iodine-131, the numerous Russian nuclear industry installation on the neighboring Kola Peninsula are denying responsibility for the residues.

The source of the Iodine remains unknown, reported the Barents Observer.

The first evidence of the presence of Iodine-131 in the Norther Barents Sea reagion, which all of these countries border, came to light a number of days ago, but the results of the analysis where publicized in parallel press releases by Norway and Finland Tuesday evening. According to The Norwegian Radiation Authority (NRPA), heightened levels of Iodine-131 concentrations were discovered in two of six so-called online measuring stations in Norway’s northerly Finnmark County.

The NRPA has said its release that it has no reliable information about the source of the isotope, but assume that the Iodine arrived from Russian soil and is from a reactor or medical facility using isotope producing facilities.

The Norwegian press release indicated the concentrations of Iodine posed no danger to public health.

Both Norwegian and Swedish authorities said in their release they have received no information about any iodine releases in northern Europe, including Russia, the Barents Observer reported.

Iodine-131 is produced by nuclear reactors and medical equipment that use ionizing radiation, said NRPA. According to NRPA calculations, the radioactive particles were carried by wind from the south east, indicating that they came either from or through Russian territory. Read More

Bird Flu Tripura, India: Over 6,200 poultry culled after fresh flu in Tripura

Agartala : Over 6,200 poultry birds and ducks were culled in Tripura after reports of a fresh outbreak of bird flu, officials said here Thursday.

The culling was done in Lembuchara area of western Tripura. "Mopping up operations and disinfection of poultry farms, birds and ducks enclosures and cages have begun," Tripura animal resource development department director Manoranjan Sarkar told IANS.

In addition to culling, huge quantities of eggs and feed material have been destroyed and compensation has been given to the affected people.

He said the Tripura government had imposed a ban on the import of poultry birds, ducks and other poultry products from outside the state.

"Nurturing of poultry birds and ducks in the flu-hit villages and in a three kilometre radius has also been banned for the next three months," Sarkar added.

Samples of sick poultry birds from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) farm were found to contain H5 strain of avian influenza virus last week. "The samples have been tested and found positive by the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal," the official said.

The ICAR farm, 25 km north of Agartala, is surrounded by several villages.

"We have asked the BSF (Border Security Force) to maintain a vigil along the 856 km Indo-Bangladesh border with Tripura to prevent illegal trade of poultry and poultry products," the director said. Source

Indonesia: Bird flu found in Brebes and Kotawaringin Barat

The agency of animal husbandry of Brebes district, Central Java has confirmed that the death of 88 birds recently in villages such as Terlangu, Kemaron, Kutamendala and Purwodadi was due to bird flu. Most of the birds were kampong chicken.

According to the head of animal health and veterinary public health of the agency of animal husbandry of Brebes district, Jhoni Murahman, based on random tests on the dead birds by using rapid test kits, the cause was concluded as H5N1 virus.

Murahman predicted that during this rainy season, the number of bird flu cases would be increasing. To reduce the cases, he said that control efforts such as limiting the transport of poultry and use of disinfectants would be applied.

Based on statistical data, the population of poultry in Brebes is about 6.1 million birds consisting of 1.6 million laying hens, 2.7 million kampong chicken, 1.3 million broilers and 568,000 ducks.

Meanwhile in Kotawaringin Barat district, Central Kalimantan, another 80 birds died from bird flu, the agency of agriculture and animal husbandry of Kotawaringin Barat confirmed. To prevent the spread of the outbreak, the agency has been restricting poultry that enters its territory. Source